Excitement is a wonderful thing. Enthusiasm makes life more enjoyable.
Excitement and enthusiasm can get you into trouble.
A couple, who are very dear friends, are getting married in July.
Not only were the H and I invited to the wedding, but I was also asked if I would do a reading at the ceremony. Oh happy day!
In a frenzy of excitement and catching up over Skype, my enthusiasm overflowed and I offered to write an original piece for the wedding.
You see – trouble.
Being creative in your own sweet time is a joyous thing. There’s no pressure of a deadline, you can dip in and out of the process as you wish. I will admit a little pressure is not a bad thing, it acts like a gentle hand in the small of your back to guide you across the road.
Actually, that’s a really shit analogy. I hate being ushered across the road…or anywhere for that matter. Okay, maybe I don’t want any pressure at all.
This was in January. The deadline for the readings is the end of April so they can be approved by the Officiator.
(Really? Approved by the Officiator? Why do they have the final say? Is this normal?)
Enthusiasm unfettered, I said I would have the piece ready by the end of March. That way my friends still had time to choose another piece if mine wasn’t to their liking.
Do you remember the Creative Writing Course I did? Well, as a result of the course, another student and I started a monthly, short story critique. It’s nice and simple, we take it in turns to choose a short story and we both give our opinions. Great. Last month it was suggested (not by me!) that we each write a short story (1000 words) and critique each others work. Do you know what I said?
I said “Ooooooh yes, how exciting!”
STOP IT WITH THE EXCITEMENT!
So now there were TWO piece of writing to produce for the end of March.
There’s a thing called Combinatory Play. It’s the process of taking unrelated things (thoughts, ideas, topics, images, disciplines, etc.) and then putting them together to generate new, useful ideas.
Einstein said “Combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought.”
As well as the poem and the story, I was doing an online course on Othello. Another freebie from the Open University and bloody fantastic. Really good educators, insights from the director of the RSC 2015 production, discussions with the actors….really good stuff. The theme of Otherness is key in Othello, as is being out of the safety of your usual environment. At the same time there was an event on the news, something to do with the surge of migrants into Europe. It made me think about how someone who is escaping a difficult life would react/behave in a new place. In a location so far removed from what they were used to that it challenged the code they lived by and perhaps made actions acceptable that would have been frowned upon at home. BOOM! Here was the idea for my short story. Did you see what I did there? A bit of Combinatory Play!
The poem was much harder.
To crack the idea for the poem it took; an adult colouring book, swimming (I even booked some swimming lessons for April), a reflection on my relationship with the H, tea – lots of tea and a particularly yummy cream bun, a riding crisis that involved hours of YouTube videos on horse training (the value of these videos was that patience wins the day plus I got to watch endless videos of lovely horses) and finally today; a packet of crisps. I’m not sure how the crisps helped but there was a flurry of activity while I was eating them and all the strands of the poem finally came together, faster than my fingers could type.
In fact, there was so much creative juice I wrote this post.
The story went off last night and the poem was sent this afternoon. The course finished last week. All I can say is that I feel an ENORMOUS sense of relief. This doesn’t mean that I sent out any old rubbish. No, I’m really happy with what I’ve written. I’m excited to see what my critique pal makes of my story about a strange girl in a strange land. I hope my friends are as enthusiastic about the poem as I am. I was so enthusiastic that I had a giddy afternoon, bouncing around the house.
Oops, it’s those E words again…Excitement and Enthusiasm. I’m off before I make any more foolish decisions and I’m leaving the crisps for creative emergencies only!